Mama Shi bought me some short rib a while ago when she was visiting. I’ve never made short rib before. The recipe I decided on, a fall-off-the-bone slow-cooked short rib, required so many additional ingredients that I have just avoided it as much as I could. It has stayed in the freezer since. Meat can be such a headache to cook. This past weekend, K.C. made us all some Korean bbq short rib with a very simple recipe and inspired me to finally take these ribs out. I reinterpreted K.C.’s delicious recipe to make a Sichuan version.
The night before cooking, I took out the ribs from the freezer and coated them with soy sauce, sugar, mirin (like rice wine but lower alcohol content and higher sugar content), sichuan chili pepper, scallions, green horn peppers, and garlic. Continue reading
79 Clinton St
(between Rivington St & Delancey St)
New York, NY 10002
I’m not completely against non-traditional Chinese food. I love Baohaus, especially their fried chicken bao and fried fish coffin bao, which are both not traditional Chinese dishes. I also love Mission Chinese, a hip little modern Chinese place that even has a kale salad. That has got to be the least Chinese thing ever. But I still love it. ‘Cause they do it right. It’s hip in the right ways. They have crispy pig ears (totally Chinese) and use Old Bay seasoning (totally not Chinese). Danny Bowien experiments with all kinds of Eastern and Western flavors and brings them together in exciting, unpretentious ways.
Yunnan Kitchen, on the other hand, pretends to be traditional but also wants to be hip and pretentious. The space is occupied by mostly non-Asians (no offense) and the menu encourages sharing “delicious small plates.” Nuh uh. Chinese people don’t share small plates. We share big plates. Pet peeve of mine. Pictured above is the Cold Noodles ($12) with ground pork, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and peanuts. This is a pretty classic dish – spicy, sweet, and nutty – but $12 is ridiculous for a tiny bowl of limp noodles. Check out Xi’an for some serious noodle damage.
We also shared the Beef Tartare ($13) with chili oil, green cabbage, and rice cracker. I liked the rice cracker and green cabbage combo but also felt like the portions were way too small for a $13 dish. The beef was lightly flavored. Nothing too memorable.
These Stir Fried Mushrooms ($11) with sawtooth herb, ham, and peppers was probably my favorite dish from the night. There were a number of different kinds of mushrooms sautéed with a smoked ham and spicy green peppers (green long horns?). My only suggestion to Yunnan Kitchen is to serve it on a sizzling cast iron plate. It smells so good, it deserves to come out crackling. Continue reading
2250 Emmons Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
This past Saturday, I got up at 4:50AM and got on the train at 5:20AM to Sheepshead Bay to board the Captain Steve’s Seaqueen VII. J.P. organized this lovely morning trip (that I almost didn’t go to until I found a Groupon deal for half the price: $35 for two, instead of $35 for one). Nothing against J.P. or fishing at all, I’m just really not a morning person. I grumpily made my way to the boat and complained about my hurting stomach and stinging eyes (my symptoms of lack of sleep).
My sleepy fingers were not excited about touching these little guys until… the first catch of the day was made. An experienced young fisher caught a 26 inch fluke. The entire boat erupted in loud cheers. In 20 minutes, cheers were happening all over the boat as more and more people caught fish. If your fluke is 19 inches or longer, you get to keep it and take it home. I started to wake up because I realized I could be bringing home dinner. That would make my trip worth it. I started trying and about two hours later, I caught something. It was a pathetic 10 inch little guy.
As small as this looks, this is actually my second catch. I only made two catches on Saturday, but the second one made the cut at a full 22 inches! My roommates on the trip, LAW, H.W., and S.S., were probably all selfishly (sel-fish-ly?) happy because they knew we would have a fresh catch for dinner. Continue reading
The Bar Room at The Modern
9 W 53rd St
(between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
For you philistines out there, that would be the restaurant at the MOMA. I imagined all these artsy people dining there, discussing the latest David Zwirner gallery exhibit and Rembrandt’s recent appearance on Google for his birthday.
But… no. It was all businessmen gathered for a tasteful evening at the museum restaurant.
LAW and I came after work one day to celebrate a little occasion. Once I sat down I realized this isn’t the type of restaurant I would normally love to celebrate in. The tables are a little bit too large so that you are distanced from your dining partner – clearly not for a romantic or even cheery meal but more for a business lunch. Everyone spoke in contained voices and there was no laughter. Zero.
Nonetheless, I had a pretty good meal and was in good celebratory spirits anyway with the LAW. We started with the Tarte Flambee alsatian thin crust tart with Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Chive, And Comté Cheese Gratiné ($18).
The crust was super thin, and slightly crispy at the bottom. Mushrooms needed a little more shroom flavor (I would add truffle oil) but otherwise tasted very nice. Pleasant. Cheese was salty and was balanced by mushrooms. Chives added a nice kick. Nothing spectacular but served its purpose. Continue reading
231 E 9th St
(between Stuyvesant St & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
The way I feel about Robataya is the way people should feel about their significant others. It’s always a treat when I get to spend time with Robataya. I always feel better about myself after I spend time with it. The more I spend time with Robataya, the more I grow to love it. The reason I haven’t fully blogged about Robataya sooner is because all my photos have been pretty crappy. The lighting is not the brightest and there’s a yellow warm hue that my old camera just couldn’t handle. But LAW recently got me an awesome Olympus PL-5 so I knew it was time to showcase Robataya.
I hate using the word “tapas” but that’s kind of what Robataya serves up. The menu offers a variety of grilled (over an open hearth) vegetables, meats, and seafood. There are a number of appetizers on the menu as well but the stars are all in the grilled items. I ALWAYS get the brussels sprouts ($6). It’s ALWAYS the freshest, most perfect brussels sprouts. ALWAYS perfectly grilled. ALWAYS salted just right with Suzu Salt, a salt imported from the Noto peninsula in Japan. According to Robataya’s menu, this salt “can only be produced by using the cleanest seawater in the region. Its saltiness is rounded by acidity, bitterness, and sweetness.” Continue reading
EN Japanese Brasserie
435 Hudson St
(between Leroy St & St Lukes Pl)
New York, NY 10014
EN Japanese Brasserie is one of the first Japanese restaurants I had heard of when I moved to NYC. It is one of those places “everyone” has been to and deems to be a good place. I had never been because there have been so many cuter, smaller Japanese restaurants in NYC that always make the cut over EN. After a very long week at work, LAW and I finally made last minute reservations for a late dinner at EN. Our table wasn’t ready so I immediately got a drink to force myself to relax (is this how I know I’m getting old?). I had the Ginger Cocktail ($13), which was a mixture of homemade ginger ale, rice shochu “Shiro,” lime juice, and soda. The drink was very light, too light for my purposes, but pleasant. The homemade ginger ale was soothing and gentle. The lime juice added just a little acidity to the ginger and rice shochu. The drink was so light to begin with that they really needed to use one of those gigantic ice cubes because the mini crushed ice cubes they used diluted the drink too quickly.
We ordered the EN Kaiseki ($65), which is the smaller of the two prix fixe menus offered. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. The meal is meant to be balanced and seasonal.
The kaiseki starts with an O-Banzai, a chef’s selection of three small Kyoto-style appetizers. We had the Hijiki (hijiki seaweed and soy bean simmered in shoyu), Zenmai Piri-Kara (royal fern sprouts in a spicy shichimi togarashi) and Kinoko Kiriboshi Daikon Ohitashi (assorted Japanese mushrooms & sun dried daikon radish with yuzu). All three were chilled, delicious, and balanced. The hijiki seaweed was sweet and tasted slightly of miso. Unlike the typical green, flat, and crunchy seaweed salad you find, hijiki is cylindrical and chewy (super QQ!). Delicious. The zenmai piri-kara was my least favorite only because I tend to not like mushy things – the royal fern sprouts were quite mushy. My favorite was the kinoko kiriboshi daikon ohitashi. The assorted Japanese mushrooms were bulbous little buds and tremendously fragrant. I had never had sun dried daikon before. It tastes less bitter than fresh daikon. The yuzu was so light, slightly sweet, and slightly citrusy. I can imagine the sauce tasting great with a nice fillet of fish…
The next course was the Chef’s Sashimi Selection. Bear in mind that photos are only of one portion. We didn’t have to share (more for us!). The chef’s selection wasn’t exactly much of a selection because it included just the basics: salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. I love the basics so it wasn’t a problem. The sashimi was overall decent quality but since I have been going to Kura so often lately, very little can compare.
Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Black Cod was next. It tasted similar to the Robataya one that I love but was a smaller fillet and less fatty. Flavor was perfect but was lacking the crispy fatty skin that I also love. Continue reading
228 W 10th St
(between Bleecker St & Hudson St)
New York, NY 10014
I have yet to find an Italian restaurant that I love in NYC. I miss the North End in Boston, where the Italian restaurants serve up delicious pastas in the most unpretentious ways. The waiters and waitresses are sarcastic and on the verge of being rude but with good Italian humor. The restaurants are cozy and small, always packed with just a table or two too many. The food is served in large family style portions. Pasta is not called “rustic” but is just labeled “homemade” – really the same thing. Flavors are bold and chefs are not afraid to use large pieces of garlic. Prices are also reasonable. That’s a big one. Paying more than $20 for a non-seafood pasta just seems a bit odd to me. Well, with that being said, I’ve been on my search nonetheless. Last week we tried L’Artusi, a pretty well-known Italian restaurant in the city that we had not gone to yet. LAW and I were in the mood for pasta and fish and L’Artusi had just that.
We started with the Roasted Mushrooms with pancetta, fried egg, and ricotta salata ($17). This is the priciest appetizer on the menu but is also their most well-known. Almost every review I’ve come across about L’Artusi mentioned the roasted mushrooms as being amazing. And it really was quite good. The mushrooms had an amazing chewy texture, but more importantly, an AMAZING smokey flavor. The egg served as a nice creamifier as it added a bit of moisture to the mushrooms. Ricotta salata (ricotta that has been pressed, salted, and dried) was very light, which was great because when I first saw the dish, I was intimidated by the volume of cheese piled onto the shrooms. Luckily, they served little purpose other than adding a bit of saltiness. There were also little slices of roasted garlic and some kind of pickles, both adding a bit of sharpness to the dish. Yum. Though not $17 kind of yum. It’s really difficult to mess up mushrooms, eggs, and garlic and though the dish was good, it didn’t blow my mind.
This is the Orecchiette with sausage, salami, and pecorino ($18), rated one of the 12 most epic New York City pastas to eat before you die by Eater. The orecchiette pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, with a slight bit of elasticity when chewed. Sweet Italian sausage was good, though was nothing special. I loved the tinge of bitterness and the slight crisp texture the radicchio offered, it really complemented the sweetness of the sausage and the creaminess of the cheese. If it were up to me, I would’ve added a little more chili flakes to kick up the heat. Otherwise, it was a solid pasta dish. I, again, wasn’t overwhelmed by how awesome it was, but was happy with it. Continue reading
For those of you who don’t know, I actually cook at home for dinner every Monday through Thursday, and sometimes for lunch on the weekends. I’m not always eating out as my blog may suggest… Pictured above is what LAW and I had for dinner last night. Panko-crusted chicken thigh, roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes, and sauteed portabella mushrooms. Nothing too fancy though since I normally make Chinese food, this seemed special.
J.P. brought us home two bags of Kraft Chili Lime and Panko mix, which was essentially panko mixed with some lime flavor and cheddar cheese. Panko, by the way, is a Japanese style bread crumb. The only difference from regular bread crumbs is that panko is made with crustless bread. The crustless bread is coarsely ground and tends to stay crispier than regular bread crumbs because they do not absorb as much grease. I defrosted the chicken thighs, patted on the panko and cheddar, and stuck it in the oven for about 30 minutes. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t cut up chicken right after you cook it because you end up losing all the juices. It’s best to wait a bit so the moisture is sealed in, which is what we did. The chicken ended up very juicy and tender. I was quite happy with it! The Kraft packet was pretty solid, with just a hint of lime. I didn’t have to add any other seasonings as the mix provided enough flavor on its own. I still have some more mix and chicken which I will save for another lazy cooking day. It’s honestly too easy. Continue reading
310 2nd Ave
(between 18th St & 19th St)
New York, NY 10003
If you read my blog, you’ll know that I am a diehard Luzzo’s fan when it comes to pizza (and are probably annoyed with my constant referral to it). Though, as a pizza-lover with an open mind, I’m always willing to give other people’s favorites a try. That beautiful piece of work up there is what Posto calls the Shroomtown, a medley of portobello, shitake, button mushrooms, and white truffle oil over a light coat of marinara and cheese. It could have used more truffle oil (always use more truffle oil) but otherwise was an amazing fungi experience. I find that real Italian pies have very great but sparse ingredients. It usually makes me appreciate that one cherry tomato or basil leaf much more. Posto, on the other hand, really piles on their toppings … in a very American way – excess x 10! When excess is in the same sentence of mushrooms, I’m all for it.
This is the Salsiccia Dolce, which includes sweet italian sausage, caramelized onions, fresh basil, marinara sauce and cheese. As you can see from this photo, Posto’s pizza crust is very thin, so thin that this thickness at any other restaurant would probably cause the pizza to become soggy and … well, flaccid. Posto’s crust is luckily very crisp at the bottom and so manages to keep the pizza in full form throughout your dining experience. It is a little less cracker-like than Otto’s pizza but does not have the same chewiness as Luzzo’s pizza (understandably due to how thin it is). I will say that Posto’s toppings are incredible. They not only use the freshest and most robustly flavored toppings, but they also give you a ton of them on each pie.
Chinese, Mexican and Italian… This little experiment did not turn out strange at all because all the flavors blended well. I seasoned the ground pork with taco seasoning while I cooked it with garlic and onions. Added mushrooms and Roma tomatoes and cooked until quite juicy. Finally added Sichuan chili powder and simmered until pasta was ready.